Summer Movie Spectacular, Part 2: July and August 2011

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Joel Crabtree, Morgan Davis and Danny Djeljosevic return to finish their guide to the biggest films of the summer. And be sure to check out Part One if you haven't already.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1st)

Joel: What is there really to say about Transformers: Dark of the Moon? It’s Michael Bay. There will be explosions, Autobots, Decepticons, and Neil Armstrong, not necessarily in that order. Oh, and it will make a lot of money, no matter how bad it is.

Danny: Bad Boys 2 proved that Michael Bay is a genius and, make no mistake -- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an art film.

Joel: We can hope that Michael Bay has learned something after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But then we remember that it’s Michael Bay that we’re talking about.

Danny: I know what to expect from the third film because it's once again written by Ehren Kruger, whose near-toxic filmography speaks for itself.

Morgan: I have somehow managed to avoid every single Transformers film. Am I wrong in assuming this one is the sequel that syncs up perfectly to Pink Floyd?

Harry Potter & the Deadly Hallows: Part 2 (July 15th)

Morgan: I don't know what happened exactly, but somewhere along the line, the Harry Potter films became dark fantasies about adolescence and I love it.

Danny: David Yates breathed amazing life into the latter half of Potter sequels, making them feel fresh and modern and the complete opposite of Chris Columbus' first couple feeble attempts. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 had a scene where Harry and Hermione hide out in the woods and slow dance to a Nick Cave song, and I loved every minute of it.

Morgan: As much as I appreciate where Yates has taken the series, I have my concerns about this last installment, given the material of the book. I'm worried the studio will scale down the bloodshed significantly. Hopefully the general moroseness will remain.

Joel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is sure to bring three things: Good reviews, lots of money and tears from its rabid fanbase, which now includes almost everybody.

Morgan: At least it can't possibly sink to the level of the Twilight franchise. Right?

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22nd)

Danny: The last wild card superhero movie is a period piece, but this time set in World War II, and part of a series of films meant to set up The Avengers.

Morgan: I really think they're going about this exactly the right way. Start the series with the bang of World War II and all that golden hued nostalgia that goes with that. The only thing that makes me hesitate to endorse the picture is Chris Evans.

Joel: This must be the bajillionth time we’ve seen Chris Evans star in some sort of comic book adaptation? Oh, only the fifth or sixth? My bad.

Morgan: I just don't know if Evans can pull off the presence and confidence of Captain America/Steve Rogers.

Joel: Evans has been primed to be the next big thing for years now, and I hope that Captain America: The First Avenger is the one that will turn Evans, whose talents have gone ignored amid some so-so choices, into a household name.

Danny: It'd be nice to see Chris Evans ascend to stardom like he deserves.

Morgan: Danny only says that because of his obsession with Scott Pilgrim.

Joel: Standing in his way, unfortunately, is director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman, Jurassic Park III). In Johnston’s defense, he did direct October Sky, a pretty good movie that was released more than a decade ago. Until he proves himself with Captain America, he’s going to have to cling to that glimmer of success.

Danny: Director Joe Johnston also made the retro Rocketeer and Wolfman was surprisingly solid.

Morgan: With a strong script, directorial inconsistencies can usually be overcome. The retro angle allays any concerns I'd normally have about Johnston, though, truth be told.

Cowboys & Aliens (July 29th)

Morgan: You really have to give a movie credit when it puts its entire plot right in the title.

Danny Djeljosevic: I am a man of some hope, and all I hope to get from Cowboys & Aliens is POW POW BANG PEW PEW PEW ZAP ZRRRRRM.

Joel: Also known as Favreau’s Revenge, this part western, part sci-fi flick is going to remind audiences why the first Iron Man movie was so good.

Morgan: I'm sure this movie will be fun and all but I can't be the only one who really wants to see it only to witness what may be Harrison Ford's crankiest performance yet (the previous record holder was that interview with Conan O'Brien).

Joel: Director Jon Favreau knows how to entertain, something that a lot of directors don’t have a grasp on. Everything Favreau touches -- with the exception of Iron Man 2 -- is a 100-proof shot of fun that, when the stars align, can generate some major ticket sales. Will Cowboys & Aliens make Iron Man kind of money? Of course not. But it might be able to hold its own in a crowded summer.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5th)

Danny: Rise looks like a kind-of-remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which is my favorite of the series.

Morgan: I can't help but look at that title and image some kind of terrible planet-on-planet action.

Joel: This is the movie of the summer that no one really asked for, and to top it off, somehow they got James Franco to star in it. I like Franco enough to sit through Rise of the Apes, no matter how schlocky it may get -- something Weta Digital’s effects will certainly prevent.

Danny: I can never get enough of apes rising up against their human overlords. I hope us hairless chimps get what's coming to us but good.

Morgan: What I really want to know is what happened to the monkeys. Did the apes enslave them too? Is there a whole slew of tail-based hate crime going on?

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (August 12th)

Joel: From producer Guillermo Del Toro, a name that always generates mass amounts of interest, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, could be the sleeper horror hit of the summer. In a summer surprisingly void of the genre, it could be director Troy Nixey’s film could capitalize on that with the help of some seriously creepy advertising.

Danny: Cowritten by Guillermo del Toro and directed by a comic book artist. Your nerds should be rallying around this shit.

Morgan: Sadly, when I first heard about this, I secretly hoped it was a remake of that old Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark? And now all my dreams are crushed.

Fright Night (August 19th)

Joel: And the summer begins to wane in the late days of August, bringing the movies whose marketing capabilities weren’t quite up to snuff to play with the big boys.

Morgan: I just don't understand these endless horror/comedy/horror comedy remakes. The whole point of horror/comedy films is that they're super easy to make a killing off of for little to no money. You can't tell me there isn't a surplus of great original horror scripts out there. Or comedies. Or horrors and comedies that can be forced to mate.

Joel: Fright Night, the remake of the 1985 movie, should be good, however, with a cast that includes Colin Farrell (always amazing) and Anton Yelchin.

Morgan: Oh, wait, Anton Yelchin is in this one? Okay, I'll shut up now.

Danny: The original Fright Night is a movie I'm very fond of. I originally rented it because someone told me it was bad and I was sure this person was being stupid, and loved it. That said, I have not paid any attention to this remake because I'm almost positive that it will not be as funny, gory or as resonant as the original.

Joel: The choice of director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock) has me throwing out IM lingo cliches like “WTF?” But having Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) on board writing the screenplay inspires hope.

Danny: I gotta say, though -- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed is a pretty inspired casting move. I hope this remake will spite me in its quality much like how I spited my friend in watching the original.

Conan the Barbarian (August 19th)

Joel: Again, with the end of the summer stuff. Conan the Barbarian is really a movie that is way overdue, but you can understand the hesitancy. Will people go to see a Conan movie that doesn’t star Arnold in his prime? The answer is no.

Morgan: I'd be more interested in a Conan film featuring Conan O'Brien.

Danny: Source material and fidelity aside, to most people Conan is an iconic, quotable Arnold Schwarzenegger role. I find it hard to for Jason Momoa, he of the perpetual dreadlocks, to even hold up to a Barry Windsor-Smith sketch, much less the guy who made the character famous for audiences.

Joel: It will take some time to adjust to Jason Momoa as Conan, but once we do, it is so on. Best case scenario: Conan the Barbarian reinvigorates the franchise. Worst case scenario: We have another Kull the Conqueror on our hands. Oy.

Morgan: Conan really requires a director who truly gets the franchise, someone who can handle the gore and the subtext equally. Someone who isn't Marcus Nispel.

Danny: I saw only one of Marcus Nispel's films. It was Pathfinder. It was nonsense, but it had sweet gore.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (August 19th)

Danny Djeljosevic: I know you listed this one as a joke, Morgan...

Morgan: So not true!

Danny: ...but I hope it makes a ton of money, because Robert Rodriguez shoots these kiddie movies over a weekend in order to finance his more characteristic productions.

Joel: A little known secret about me: I love the Spy Kids franchise. Much like what Jon Favreau does with his movies, Robert Rodriguez likes the audience to have a lot of fun. But with the Spy Kids franchise, he takes that level of fun to a new extreme. Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World will certainly be no exception.

Morgan: These films won't change the world or anything (though they may change some little kid's world), but I'm with Joel: they're fun little romps that work for kids and adults alike. And yes, there is also that whole "making far crazier Rodriguez films possible" factor.

Danny: Parents, you just financed Machete Dos: Muerte a Todos los Gringos.

Feel free to send the Three Musketeers here e-mails about how stupid/wrong/right/majestic they are, and look for full reviews of each of these films when they come out! Oh, what's that? Our Thor review is already up?

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